Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Photo: The Yomiuri Shimbun via AFP
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is keen to make inroads into Africa to offset China's growing influence. Photo: The AFP/Yomiuri Shimbun

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday that he will not compromise on his stance that maintaining the country’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF) is constitutional.

The Asahi Shimbun reports that Abe told a Lower House Budget Committee meeting that he will stick to his position even if his proposal to specify the SDF’s existence in Japan’s constitution is rejected in a national referendum.

Abe has previously stated that he wants to amend the constitution to validate the existence of the SDF. Pacifist Article 9 of the document prohibits Japan from maintaining armed forces or resorting to armed force to resolve international disputes. The SDF is not mentioned in the document which was drawn up soon after World War II under the US occupation.

The Asahi said a constitutional amendment would require a two-thirds majority of both parliamentary chambers before holding a national referendum on the issue.

Article 9 of the Constitution states that Japan will never maintain land, sea and air forces as well as other war capability. The SDF was created in 1954, seven years after Japan’s post-war constitution took effect.